Enemies in Love

A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance

A true and deeply moving narrative of forbidden love during World War II and a shocking, hidden history of race on the home front

Enemies in Love is nothing short of a revelation about the history we thought we knew. Alexis Clark cracks open a completely unknown chapter in the story of race in the United States—told through an almost unbelievable (but utterly real and unforgettable) love story.” —Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation

This is a love story like no other: Elinor Powell was an African American nurse in the U.S. military during World War II; Frederick Albert was a soldier in Hitler’s army, captured by the Allies and shipped to a prisoner-of-war camp in the Arizona desert. Like most other black nurses, Elinor pulled a second-class assignment, in a dusty, sun-baked—and segregated—Western town. The army figured that the risk of fraternization between black nurses and white German POWs was almost nil.

Brought together by unlikely circumstances in a racist world, Elinor and Frederick should have been bitter enemies; but instead, at the height of World War II, they fell in love. Their dramatic story was unearthed by journalist Alexis Clark, who through years of interviews and historical research has pieced together an astounding narrative of race and true love in the cauldron of war.

Based on a New York Times story by Clark that drew national attention, Enemies in Love paints a tableau of dreams deferred and of love struggling to survive, twenty-five years before the Supreme Court’s Loving decision legalizing mixed-race marriage—revealing the surprising possibilities for human connection in one of history’s most violent conflicts.


“A powerful testament to our shared humanity, Enemies in Love is sensitive, audacious, and inspiring. It challenges stereotypes and ignites hope. Indeed, love is both fragile and enduring, defiant and comforting—just like this remarkable book.”
—Janet Dewart Bell, author, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement
“Alexis Clark’s astonishing and necessary love story is not only a valuable document about time past, but a prescient look at the ways in which miscegenation changed the world and changes the world. . . . A tour de force.”
—Hilton Als, staff writer at the New Yorker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and author of White Girls
“Alexis Clark illuminates a whole corner of unknown World War II history in a U.S. prisoner-of-war camp and the postwar American suburbs, full of expected racism and intolerance—sweetened by unexpected love, unusual pockets of racial harmony, and genuine romance.”
—Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci
“In this compelling and original work, Alexis Clark has given us an absorbing narrative of an unlikely love in an unlikely place between unlikely protagonists. It is an irresistible human story that evokes perennial themes. Clark’s voice is engaging, and her tale universal.”
—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
“Clark’s unlikely love story of a World War II German POW and African American army nurse mercifully transports us from a world of staid stereotype and racial acrimony into one of possibility and transcendence. A tonic for weary souls.”
—Pamela Newkirk, author of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award